hu·​la ˈhü-lə How to pronounce hula (audio)
variants or less commonly hula-hula
: a sinuous Polynesian dance characterized by rhythmic movement of the hips and mimetic gestures with the hands and often accompanied by chants and rhythmic drumming

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A sinuous Polynesian dance, the hula combines undulating movement of the hips and mimetic hand gestures. The dance is often accompanied by chants, drumming, and music played on instruments such as the ukulele. Originally a religious dance performed to praise the chiefs, contemporary hulas tell a story or describe a place, and are danced exclusively by women. The costume typically includes a raffia skirt with a lei (garland) around the neck.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web In ancient Hawai'i, men were the first to dance hula, and the best dancers were even chosen to become warriors. Kathleen Benoza, CNN, 30 Aug. 2022 The American Women Quarters Program began this year and features five women each year through 2025, including the Native Hawaiian hula teacher Edith Kanaka’ole in 2023. Brahmjot Kaur, NBC News, 18 Oct. 2022 Edith Kanakaʻole was an Indigenous Hawaiian hula teacher who helped preserve her native culture and traditions as part of the Hawaiian renaissance of the 1970s. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 4 Apr. 2022 Look for rollerblading and e-scooter lessons, double Dutch and hula hooping zones, face painting, music, and family activities, while local restaurants and businesses extend their outdoor footprints onto the pavement. Stephanie Williams, Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2022 The in-person festival will take place at the outdoors Stardust Cinema, featuring live music, Kahiko style hula and other activities. Wilson Chapman, Variety, 27 June 2022 While Musk, back turned, worked out the complicated math to build a rescue device, each of the children was silently ushered off stage through a hula hoop. Amanda Shendruk, Quartz, 16 Aug. 2022 There will be lots of styles of dance and exercise offered, but two of her specialties are belly dancing and hula hooping. Pam Mcloughlin, Hartford Courant, 20 Aug. 2022 Afrobeat, Bachata, ballroom basics, East Coast swing, hula, line-dancing, kizomba, merengue, polka hop, salsa and more. Laura Manske, Forbes, 5 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hula.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



First Known Use

1825, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hula was in 1825

Dictionary Entries Near hula

Cite this Entry

“Hula.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



hu·​la ˈhü-lə How to pronounce hula (audio)
variants or hula-hula
: a Polynesian dance composed of slow rhythmic body movements usually accompanied by chants and drumming

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